My Chocolate Year: A Novel with 12 Recipes

( 5 )

Overview

Dorrie Meyers is starting fifth grade, the year of the Sweet Semester baking and essay contest at school. Dorrie is determined to win, but her cakes fall flat, her cookies look like pancakes, and she learns the hard way that chocolate-covered gum is NOT a good idea.

Then Dorrie meets her cousin Victor for the first time. Victor is an immigrant from Europe, and he is about to teach Dorrie that a loving family and a safe homeland are the sweetest things of all. With some ...

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Overview

Dorrie Meyers is starting fifth grade, the year of the Sweet Semester baking and essay contest at school. Dorrie is determined to win, but her cakes fall flat, her cookies look like pancakes, and she learns the hard way that chocolate-covered gum is NOT a good idea.

Then Dorrie meets her cousin Victor for the first time. Victor is an immigrant from Europe, and he is about to teach Dorrie that a loving family and a safe homeland are the sweetest things of all. With some top-secret tips from Victor's family's bakery and a big slice of confidence, Dorrie Meyers might just have the yummiest year of her life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Plucky fifth-grader Dorrie Meyers narrates this cheerful tale about her preparations for the Sweet Semester baking contest during the 1945-46 school year. Throughout a series of culinary blunders, Dorrie's extensive family of Jewish immigrants offers her encouragement, despite their preoccupation with locating relatives missing in Europe. Dorrie regales readers with an appealing, frank familiarity. Evolving under this lighthearted girl-talk, however, is a more sobering plot line that centers on the arrival of Dorrie's orphaned cousin, Victor, from Lithuania. Herman breezes through the dramatic story of Victor's escape without dwelling on the terror of the times, giving readers a peek at what Jews faced trying to flee the Germans, but not much more. The two layers of the story mesh neatly when Victor lends the final inspiration and missing "ingredients" that lead to Dorrie's eventual success in the baking contest. Victor's anecdotes and Dorrie's family's relief in finding a surviving relative offer an unusual opportunity to look at how Jews on both sides of the Atlantic fared during and after the war. Dorrie's girlish exuberance coupled with the dash of history make for a pleasant read. A dozen recipes, written in Dorrie's voice, are interspersed throughout. Final illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 8 to 11.

The year is 1945, and Dorrie Meyers is in fifth grade. Life seems so much simpler in the old days, as that time is presented in this charming novel. The book itself is small, with a chocolate brown cover, ivory pages, and chocolate-colored print. Each chapter has illustrations and ends with a recipe that Dorrie has invented or borrowed as part of her quest to come up with a terrific entry for the end-of-semester project that all of the fifth graders must complete. All of the students look forward to the project because they get to cook and write an essay about their food entry. Although Dorrie's mother and grandmother are great cooks, her own cooking is somewhat less than the reader might expect. Still, she does manage to muddle through several episodes including a disaster in which she uses Ex-Lax in the nut clusters, thinking that it is chocolate (which seems like a cliché to this reader). Underlying each of the chapters is the problem of missing relatives in Germany. Finally, a European cousin arrives; he helps solve the Dorrie-dilemma of what to make and write about for Sweet Semester. It would be interesting to see what fifth grade girls think of this cute little novel, with the main characters self-denigration and implausible ineptitude in the kitchen. It also seems a bit odd that the problem of what to make for the Sweet Semester treat does not emerge from Dorrie's own experiences, but rather the "deus ex machina" of cousin Victor who jumps right in and decides (unilaterally) that Dorrie will make chocolate peppermint sticks rather than the caramel apples she had planned. Throughout the story are nice, historical tidbits (fan mail to Margaret O'Brien,an Esterbrook fountain pen, Betsy Belle magazine) that will remind the reader of the "American Girl" Molly books. It is also a reminder of how much more "stuff" fills our lives today and how much harder we need to focus on what really matters--family, helping each other, treasuring the moment. Reviewer: Gwynne Spencer

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6- Set in 1945 Chicago, this story about growing up in a Jewish family seems more like a fictionalized reminiscence than a novel. Dorrie Meyers is excited to start fifth grade and anticipates the annual "Sweet Semester" recipe/essay contest. Recipes tied to holidays and other events are scattered throughout, from "Hot Fudge Sundae" to "Chocolate Rapture Cake." While the idea of re-creating the era with recipes as a device is a good one, the disjointed sentences and choppy dialogue keep this simplistic story from ever getting off the ground. There are numerous references to movie stars and other figures of the era, including Ruth Wakefield, who invented the chocolate chip cookie (no recipe included), but neither they nor Hazel Bishop lipstick and Betsy Belle magazine are likely to resonate with readers. Sunny Shapiro, Dorrie's friend, is introduced on the first page, but doesn't show up again until the fifth chapter. In the meantime, a story line develops around the family's sole Holocaust survivor, who is living in a DP camp, and who eventually joins them. Pham's illustrations capture the period well. The author's The Memory Cupboard: A Thanksgiving Story (Albert Whitman, 2003) is a much more enjoyable book for those looking for intergenerational stories.-Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416933410
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 2/19/2008
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 966,546
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Charlotte Herman is the author of many beloved books for children, including
the acclaimed Millie Cooper series and The House on Walenska Street. Like
Dorrie, Charlotte possesses a lifelong love of family, chocolate malteds, and hot
fudge sundaes. She makes her home outside of Chicago.

LeUyen Pham is the acclaimed illustrator of a number of books. She lives,
works, and teaches in San Francisco, California.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Sweet Semester, 1945

"Fifth grade with Miss Fitzgerald is going to be the best grade ever!" I said to my friend Sunny Shapiro as I tried balancing myself along the curb. "Imagine! Being in a real newspaper."

"And becoming famous!" said Sunny.

We were on our way home after our first day of school, still filled with the exciting news Miss Fitzgerald had given us just before dismissal.

"Class," she began, "even though it's only September, I want to tell you about a tradition that I follow every year at the end of the semester in January. Some of you might already know..."

Before she even had a chance to finish the sentence, the kids shouted out, "Sweet Semester, Sweet Semester!" Everyone in school knew about Miss Fitzgerald's popular event held each year.

"That's right, class. Sweet Semester. To celebrate the end of what I hope will be a sweet semester for all of us. And I'm telling you about it now so that you'll have plenty of time to prepare for it. Plenty of time to give it lots of thought."

She then went on to tell us what I already knew from my brother, Artie, who also had Miss Fitzgerald when he was in fifth grade three years ago.

Sweet Semester is a contest and here's how it works. We each bring in a dessert that we've made by ourselves, along with the recipe, and an essay about why we chose to make that particular dessert. Then everyone gets to taste each entry and vote on the winner. Miss Fitzgerald chooses the winning essay.

Just when I thought Miss Fitzgerald was finished telling us about Sweet Semester, she added something unexpected and wonderful.

"Class, this year, for the first time, I plan to invite a newspaper reporter and a photographer to come here and join us. And the winner — or winners — will have their pictures taken, and be written up in...the Chicago Daily News!"

The whole class went wild. We were yelling "Yippee!" and jumping in the aisles. And by the time the bell rang and we ran out of the building, Sunny and I could practically see our pictures right there in a major Chicago newspaper, shaking hands with Mayor Kelly.

"I just thought of something," I told Sunny as I hopped off the curb. "I can't cook and I can't bake."

"Come to think of it, I can't either," said Sunny.

"My cakes fall and my cookies look like pancakes."

"Same here, Dorrie. And don't forget. We have to write that essay."

"I'm not worried about writing the essay. I've got lots of erasers. But you can't erase a bad cake. I don't know what I'm going to do."

"Me neither," said Sunny, "but let's not worry yet. The end of January is a long way off. And in the meantime we can experiment."

"The one thing I know for sure is that I'll make something chocolate," I told her. "It definitely has to be chocolate."

"What did Artie make for Sweet Semester?"

"He piled three marshmallows on top of each other and called it a snowman."

"He made one snowman? How was that enough for the whole class?"

"It wasn't," I said. "And he didn't win either."

When I walked into the kitchen I found my mother pouring hot cocoa for Artie and me.

The cocoa was really good this time. Not like usual when she boils the milk so hot that skin forms on the top. There's nothing that makes me gag more than floating skin on top of milk.

"Miss Fitzgerald told us about Sweet Semester today," I said as I sipped the cocoa. "And guess what! This year the winners will get written up in the Chicago Daily News, with their pictures and everything."

"Ah, I can see it all now," said Artie, putting his cup down on the table and swiping the air in front of him in a grand motion. "Right on the front page...Dorrie Meyers wins Sweet Semester with pineapple upside-down cake!"

"I hate pineapple," I told him. "And I don't have to be on the front page. I'd be happy to see myself right in with the want ads. Or the crossword puzzle. I just want to make something wonderful. And original. Only I don't know what."

"I'm sure you'll think of something when the time comes," my mother said as she put on an apron.

"I can help you make a marshmallow snowman," said Artie.

"Great idea, Artie. But no thanks."

I brought my empty cup over to the sink and turned to Artie. "By the way, when you wrote your essay, what did you say about your reason for making a marshmallow snowman?"

"I wrote that marshmallows are fun to eat and almost everyone likes them and this was a unique way to make a snowman any time of the year and it wouldn't melt and you wouldn't even need any snow."

I shook my head and laughed. In a way, I wished I could be more like Artie. Not worry so much. Just do any old thing without thinking about it or caring, and whatever happens, happens.

While I was washing out the cup, my mother was rummaging in the cupboards, pulling out her Mixmaster, mixing bowls, measuring cups, and all kinds of ingredients. I could see she was getting ready to do some serious baking.

My mother is a wonderful cook and baker. She is famous for her carrot cakes. But today when I saw her taking out the jar of honey, I knew what she was getting ready to bake. A honey cake for Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year. And this would be our first Rosh Hashanah since the war with Germany and Japan ended.

I love celebrating Rosh Hashanah, when relatives come over. We eat all kinds of sweet foods. Sweet kugels, sweet carrots, apples dipped in honey, and of course, my mother's honey cake. Sweet foods for a sweet year.

I think honey cake is okay for the adults. They seem to like it. But for me there is nothing like chocolate.

"Do you think you could bake a chocolate cake while you're at it?" I asked my mother.

"Another time," she said. "I'm so far behind. And there's so much I have to do yet."

So I just hung around and watched as her hands worked their magic: measuring, sifting, pouring. I thought maybe if I watched real hard every time she baked, really studied, I could learn something.

Maybe some of her magic would rub off on me.

Copyright © 2008 by Charlotte Herman

CHAPTER TWO

Rosh Hashanah

Crash! Bang!

"No, no! Get away!" My mother was screaming from the kitchen.

At the sound of the crash Artie and I ran in from the dining room where we had been playing with my Uncle Jack's dog, Buddy. But Buddy got there first and in a flash he was attacking my mother's pot roast lying on the floor.

"No!" yelled Uncle Jack. "Drop it!" With one hand he grabbed Buddy's collar and tugged at him while my mother pulled the roast out of his mouth.

And as Buddy was lapping up the carrots and onions and gravy from the linoleum, my mother was drying her tears with her apron.

Artie and I cleaned up the floor with some wet rags, but there wasn't much to do because Buddy pretty much cleaned it up for us. He just stood there licking his mouth and wagging his tail like it was the best meal he ever had.

"You crafty canine," Uncle Jack said to Buddy. "Stop looking so smug."

Buddy is a black-and-white English springer spaniel with adorable floppy ears. Spaniels are good hunting dogs, so I guess that's why he was so quick to get at the pot roast.

"I don't know how it happened," my mother said. "The pan just slipped out of my hand." She sank into a chair.

"Don't worry," said Uncle Jack. "I can go out to the butcher shop and see if they have any more meat."

Even though the war was over, there was still a shortage of meat. And sometimes it was hard to get.

"No, don't bother," she said shaking her head. "There won't be anything left. And I have plenty of chicken." She let out a deep sigh. "I just don't know where my mind is lately. I can't concentrate on anything."

Uncle Jack sat down at the table next to her. He had stopped by earlier that Thursday saying he was in the neighborhood, walking Buddy. But I think he came over to sample some of my mother's cooking. He knew she was preparing for our big meal on Friday night. I guess he didn't count on Buddy doing the sampling too.

"I can't tell you how worried I am," my mother said as she sipped a cup of tea and wiped away some more tears. I didn't think the tears were just because of the roast.

They sat at the table, close together, talking softly. But I could still see and hear them from across the kitchen where I was gathering up the wet rags.

"I'm worried too," said Uncle Jack, digging into a piece of sweet noodle kugel. "The last letter I got from them was way back in 1941. I remember because it was the year I bought the Plymouth."

It's well known in our family that Uncle Jack, who is my mother's brother, measures time by his 1941 Plymouth. Everything that's ever happened in his life is either BP or AP. Before Plymouth or After Plymouth.

"That's when I last heard from them too," my mother said. "And ever since the war ended I've been sending letters to anyone I can think of, trying to find out what happened. Four months already and I haven't gotten any answers."

"What letters are you talking about?" I asked, recovering a stray carrot from under the table.

"Oh, we're just talking family talk," my mother said, which is what she always says when she thinks I'm not old enough to understand something.

"Well I'm family too, aren't I?" I took Buddy by the collar and led him back into the dining room. "Come on, Buddy. I guess we know when we're not wanted."

On Friday night the relatives came to celebrate the new year. Bubbie — my grandmother — came with Uncle Jack and Aunt Esther, who is my mother's sister, and a pot of stuffed cabbage. Uncle Louie and Aunt Goldie, who are on my father's side of the family, brought sweet and sour meatballs. Nobody brought anything chocolate.

When we sat down at the table, my father said the blessings over the wine and challah bread, and passed around slices of apples that we dipped into honey.

"L'shanah tovah! To a good year!" we wished one another. "May we hear good news from Europe."

My mother and Aunt Esther carried in the steaming bowls of chicken soup, and Artie and I helped bring in the roasted chicken, sweet carrots and kugels, the stuffed cabbage, meatballs, and salad. There was so much food — even without the pot roast — that we had to take the vase of flowers off the table to make room.

Everything looked delicious. "I'm starving," I said to Artie as I started to fill my plate. I didn't think anyone else heard me. But Aunt Goldie did. She was sitting right next to me.

"Sweetheart, what do you know from starving?" she said. "The children in Europe...they are the ones who are starving."

She said that to me just as my fork was about to pierce a second meatball. I had counted on a third one, too. I love sweet and sour meatballs. And stuffed cabbage. But now, after Aunt Goldie said that, I lost my appetite. How could I fill up my plate with all kinds of wonderful food when children in Europe were starving? So I just took a small piece of chicken and a spoonful of carrots.

"That's all you're having?" Aunt Goldie said when she saw my plate. "Sweetheart, take something else. No wonder you're so skinny."

I can never understand why some of my relatives keep reminding me that I'm skinny. Like I don't already know.

"Maybe later," I told her.

While we ate, the subject of the letters came up again. The conversation started in English but quickly and quietly switched to Yiddish. As if Artie and I couldn't understand what they were talking about.

When we were small and my mother and father didn't want Artie and me to understand what they were saying, they'd speak to each other in Yiddish. And many of my relatives often speak Yiddish when they get together, especially when they get excited about something, like when they get into an argument. Didn't they realize that somewhere along the way we figured them out? That by now we could understand them?

I pretended to be studying the bubbles in my glass of ginger ale and Artie concentrated on the chandelier above the table.

I listened to them talking about the letters they had been waiting for but weren't receiving, and talking about Bubbie's sister, Sophie, from Lithuania. And then more names: Mina and Joseph and their son, Victor. I knew that Victor was a distant cousin of mine. A second cousin, I think.

Bubbie sat quietly, pushing the meat and rice around on her plate with her fork, listening to the conversation.

"We would have heard something by now. It can't be good."

"Europe is in so much chaos. It's too early to know anything about anybody. People are scattered all over."

What happened to Sophie? And Mina and Joseph and Victor? Hearing all this talk about them made me think of a newsreel I saw one time.

A few months ago I went to the Central Park Theater on Roosevelt Road with my mother and father to see a movie starring Esther Williams. She's a fantastic swimmer. But what I can't understand is how she can swim and do ballet underwater and still come up with dry hair. And how can she breathe and smile at the same time?

Anyway, what I remember more than the movie was the newsreel: "The Eyes and Ears of the World." It was all about Hitler, and Germany surrendering. And it showed American soldiers and German soldiers, and huge ovens and ashes all around them. And the people in the theater were crying. My mother and father, too.

Usually my father likes to go out to a restaurant after a movie. He loves restaurants. My mother doesn't. She always says she can make anything better and cheaper at home. But this time, even my father didn't want to go out to eat.

"What was that all about?" I asked when we left the theater. Nobody said anything. They just put their arms around me as we walked home together. But I didn't need to ask them. I knew what I saw. I saw ashes. The ashes of people who perished in the war.

Copyright © 2008 by Charlotte Herman

CHAPTER THREE

My Mother's Bridge Club

The synagogue hummed with the Rosh Hashanah prayers on Saturday and Sunday. I sat up in the balcony with my mother and listened to the cantor chant the most beautiful melodies. And when the rabbi spoke of all the Jews who were killed in Europe, women cried into their handkerchiefs.

"And many of those who survived are broken in body and spirit," he said. "They have lost everything. Their homes and their families. They have nowhere to go."

When he spoke about all those people who didn't have families anymore, I leaned in closer to my mother and thought about how lucky I was to have her. My father and Artie, too. They were sitting downstairs with the men. I wondered if any of the men were crying.

On Sunday I heard the blowing of the shofar, the ram's horn, and goose bumps sprouted on my arms. I knew the sound was to make us think about the year gone by, and to look ahead to the new one.

At times I studied the ladies' hats. Large hats. Crazy hats. With flowers and feathers, or even fruit. And I knew that I would never wear hats like those when I grew up. Why would I ever want to walk around with fruit on my head?

It seemed that Rosh Hashanah put my mother in a quiet, thoughtful mood. So I was happy to see how she brightened up a few days later when she made her announcement.

"My club is coming over tonight. I need you to help me clean up."

"Club?" I asked. "Since when do you belong to a club?"

"My new bridge club. The girls and I have decided to get together once a week to play cards. I'm having the first meeting."

My mother set out little dishes filled with chocolate-covered candies of different shapes and sizes.

"Don't eat any of the bridge mix," she said. "I need to make sure there's enough for tonight."

"You mean they make candy especially for people who play bridge?" I asked. "Then why don't they make candy for people who play Monopoly and checkers?" I aimed my hand toward one of the dishes. "Can I have just one piece?"

"All right. Just one."

I picked out the biggest piece of candy I could find. It was round. I bit into it and discovered a chocolate-covered malted milk ball. It reminded me of the malteds I get at Ziffer's Drugstore. I wanted another one.

"Can I have just one more?" I asked.

"If there's any left after tonight you can have some tomorrow."

When the girls came over, Artie and I hid in the room we share. We could hear them through the walls. They were talking very loudly. They were laughing. They were cackling.

"Like witches," Artie said.

"Like chickens," I said.

My mother was cackling right along with them. I could tell she was having a good time.

As I listened to their voices something occurred to me. "You know, everyone except Ma has an accent — from Europe," I told Artie.

"Ma has one too," Artie said.

"No she doesn't."

"Sure she does. And so does Dad."

I listened really hard, but I still couldn't tell.

"I think you're imagining it," I told him, and I flopped down on my bed. "All I know is they'd better save us some of the chocolate-covered malted milk balls."

"And the chocolate-covered peanuts and raisins," said Artie.

We waited for them to go home. But they didn't. Their laughing and cackling filled the air as I drifted off to sleep, praying that they wouldn't eat up all the bridge mix.

There was plenty of bridge mix left in the morning. My mother said I could take some for recess. So I took the malted milk balls and Artie took the peanuts and raisins.

After school my mother let me help her cook the chocolate pudding that we were having for dessert at supper time.

I love chocolate pudding. It's so rich and smooth and chocolaty. And I love cooking it, too. I like the way it thickens and bubbles as it gets hotter and hotter.

"Ma," I said as I was stirring, "do you have an accent?"

She came over and set down the cups she'd brought me for the pudding. "I suppose I do. Why do you ask?"

"Well, last night Artie said you have one. And that Daddy has one too. But I never noticed."

I poured the pudding into the cups and my mother put them in the Frigidaire to cool. Then I sat down at the table with the pot to lick whatever was left of the pudding. First with a spoon, then with my finger. I wondered if chocolate pudding would be good to bring for Sweet Semester. Probably not, I thought. Too ordinary.

"I mean, you don't sound like the ladies — the girls — from last night," I continued. "Or the neighbors. And you sure don't sound like any of the aunts and uncles, like Aunt Goldie or Uncle Louie."

My mother sat down across from me. "That's because they were older than I was when they came from Europe to America. The older you are when you come to a new country, the harder it is to lose the accent."

My hands and face were messy from all that licking and scraping, and just as I was getting ready to clean up, Artie came home. When he saw me he laughed and called me a chocolate-covered Dorrie.

"Very funny," I said as he ran off. I went to the sink to wash up and said, "So, Ma, how old were you when you came here, anyway?"

"I was fourteen. The oldest of my brothers and sisters. And Uncle Jack was the youngest. He was just five. So that's why he doesn't have an accent."

That evening at supper, as I dug into the cold, thick chocolate pudding and slowly licked off each spoonful, I listened closely as my mother and father were talking. And I discovered something. They actually do have accents. Funny how I never noticed before.

Copyright © 2008 by Charlotte Herman

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Table of Contents

1. Sweet Semester, 1945

2. Rosh Hashanah

3. My Mother's Bridge Club

4. Swell September

5. Chocolate Malteds

6. A Weekend with Bubbie

7. Chocolate-Covered Gum

8. That Summer in New York

9. We Hear About Victor

10. A Care Package for Victor

11. Thanksgiving and Aunt Jenny

12. Bubbie and I Cook and Bake for Hanukkah

13. Nut Cluster Disaster

14. Happy New Year, 1946

15. I Slip and Artie Graduates

16. Getting Ready for Victor

17. A Blue Dress with Puffy Sleeves

18. Passover

19. Victor Arrives

20. We Meet Victor

21. Hot Fudge Sundaes

22. A Private Party and a Wedding

23. Sweet Semester, 1946

24. Hello, Summer

Author's Note

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2013

    This was a very good book. I especially loved how the setting wa

    This was a very good book. I especially loved how the setting was set in 1945, and I love that you can make the recipes all by yourself! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes cooking, loves history, and loves school stories. You'll really enjoy this book.

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  • Posted November 5, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Marie Robinson for TeensReadToo.com

    What a gem of a book! MY CHOCOLATE YEAR by Charlotte Herman starts out as a sweet story about 10-year-old Dorrie, who is a fifth-grader in Chicago just after the end of World War II. Dorrie is excited about the annual ¿Sweet Semester¿ contest run by her teacher. Every student is to plan a special dessert, which they will bring in to class at the end of the semester for a contest. The students sample each other's desserts and vote on the best one. They also write an essay explaining their choice of dessert, and their teacher judges the best essay. <BR/><BR/>Dorrie has been looking forward to her chance at winning Sweet Semester since her older brother, Artie, participated when he was in fifth grade. She is determined to win, and the book is interspersed with her attempts at various concoctions. It even includes actual recipes for some of the desserts, including Peppermint Chocolate Sticks and a scrumptious-sounding Chocolate Nut Torte. <BR/><BR/>While Dorrie is focused on the contest and on finding that perfect recipe, her family is adjusting to post-war life. They are Russian Jews who managed to escape the Holocaust, but not all of their relatives were so lucky. It sounds like a surprisingly sad topic to combine with the lightweight feel of the dessert contest, but author Herman executes this integration flawlessly. <BR/><BR/>In fact, her inclusion of the cultural elements of post-World War II Chicago make reading this book educational without ever feeling like it. For instance, I had no idea that there used to be ¿silver¿ pennies, or that chocolate chip cookies were invented by a woman named Ruth Wakefield, or that sugar was rationed. <BR/><BR/>It also makes perfect sense to show this time and place in American life through the eyes of a fifth-grader, and of course she is more focused on her big contest at school than with the letters her parents receive from relatives overseas. Dorrie does have a big heart, though, and it is that heart and conscience that guides her to what she eventually chooses as her entry for Sweet Semester.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2008

    A reviewer

    This is one sweet read that passes too quickly. Author Charlotte Herman manages to confect in twenty-four little chapters (each niftily named)a school-year of funny starts and gentle back-slides for fifth-grader Dorrie in 1945-46 Chicago. She wants to win the Sweet Semester cooking contest coming in June and to see her picture in the newspaper, but the best recipes for success always allow for surprises. This is not one little girl alone against the world, thank goodness. Children will love the recipes, the chocolate-tinted illustrations by Pham, and Dorrie in all her glory. Herman, with great delicacy, also recreates wonderfully the speech and lingo of the time and place in this sweet but not cloying first-person story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2008

    Twelve Months of Sweet Treats

    I can't believe what a fast read this book was! I couldn't put it down. I loved Dorrie's (main character) good-hearted personality, her curiosity, and her sense of humor. I liked reading how Dorrie dealt with scrapes she got herself into. They were certainly familiar to me. The details of family life and school in postwar Chicago gave me a clear picture of what it was like to grow up during the 1940s in a close-knit community concerned about others in a world that had just been turned upside by war. Definitely a sweet--and must--read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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